Edinburg EDC OK’d grant for restaurant owner accused of sexually assaulting employees

Elias Bazan

The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation board voted unanimously during a May 28 meeting to authorize a small business grant to Elias Bazan III, the Taco Ole owner accused of groping employees, forcing them to engage in oral sex and threatening one with a knife.

In January, Bazan was charged with three counts of sexual assault and a count of making a terroristic threat. He also faces felony charges for possession of narcotics after authorities found THC oil and cocaine in a $1 bill during a subsequent search of his home.

One accuser alleges Bazan told her she needed to perform sexual favors in order to keep her job, and that no one would believe her if she came forward because of her immigration status. 

Bazan applied for the corporation’s Small Business Renovation and Improvement Grant Program on March 22, which listed $16,998.50 in expenses for a reach-in freezer, 120 chairs, a small refrigerator, an ice cube maker and a gas countertop griddle. The corporation awards $5,000 and $10,000 grants to city businesses that are approved.

According to a June 25 corporation agenda packet, Sonia Enriquez made a motion for the measure and Mike Farias seconded. Board President Jorge Salinas, Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer Farias, Mayor Richard Molina, Mayor Pro-Tem David Torres and Enriquez all voted in favor of allowing the corporation to enter into an agreement with Bazan.

The EEDC was asked the amount awarded and status of Bazan’s grant. They’re working to get that information, according to new interim executive director Ruben Ramirez. 

Requests for an interview with anyone who voted on the grant went unfulfilled by the time of publication.

Previous coverage:

Local restaurant owner charged with sexual assault

Taco Ole owner faces felony drug charges